Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Character Review: Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie


Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’s second season can almost be thought of as two separate seasons. The first half covered the deterioration of Hydra and Coulson’s psyche, ending with a huge bang — or, if you will, shake. The second half covered the discovery of the Inhumans and superpowered people.

Because there’s been so much character development this season (and since we have the time to kill), let’s dive in and take a trip down Agents of SHIELD memory lane, character by character.

Miss a post? Get caught up: Melinda May  |  Grant Ward  |  Fitz  |  Simmons  |  Bobbi Morse  |  Lance Hunter  |  Cal Zabo

[Mid-Season Report: Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie]

The Positive: Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie just sort of showed up on Agents of SHIELD. A mechanic at the hidden SHIELD base discovered in the Season 1 finale, he slowly made his way into the Coulson clan. He resparked an old friendship with Hunter and entered into one of the bigger friendships of the series with Fitz.

Mack may be the sole reason that Fitz recovered as well as he did. The original crew didn’t know how to react to Fitz and his new mental state, so they shied away from him. Mack was the only one who treated Fitz like a normal human. He was patient with his halting conversations, tried to fill in the blanks that Imaginary Simmons filled in Fitz’s head, and he even helpd Fitz save the mission in one of the season’s first episodes. It was Mack’s support and friendship that helped Fitz make those big strides to get to a new normal.

The finale gave us the best Mack of the season: an agent who saw his team going down to some weird things and deciding to fight back. He rescues Skye and helps Coulson and Fitz detain Gordon, keeping the Kree weapon safe in SHIELD’s hands. In the end, Coulson gave him control over alien things they may encounter in the future. Who better than the guy who treads lightly around it?

The Negative: Was he really in the garage in that hidden base? The Agents of SHIELD Wiki page for him says it’s “likely” he was previously a technician and Coulson saw him being loyal. Was he a recruit from elsewhere? He had that history with Hunter that was supposed to make us care about it, but it came at a time when we didn’t really care about Hunter; therefore, we didn’t really care. It didn’t do much for us.

When it comes to light that Coulson was writing that alien language, Mack writes him off completely. He offers Coulson no leeway, no give, and this is all before he gets inhabited by the underground temple at the winter finale. After that, he really has no allegiance to our beloved team. He pushes Bobbi about their secret agenda, undermining everyone. It felt like when it came to showing the secrecy from Bobbi’s POV, it was intriguing; from Mack’s POV, it felt unnecessary and a little boring.

He aligned his beliefs with Simmons, full-fledged anti-alien, but that didn’t help his character because many viewers didn’t enjoy Simmons’ characterization at that point in the season. Then he kidnaps Hunter right when we’re starting to really like Hunter, making Mack’s own characterization murky at best.

All of his redemption (so to speak) comes in the final episode. While it’s a welcome change of pace and great to see Mack in action, it feels like too little too late to help him out this season.

Next Season: If the finale is a glimpse of the Mack to come in Agents of SHIELD, I am all for it. It’s the SHIELD agent he should have been from the start — or at least more than one episode.

With his and Bobbi’s secret out in the open, the mystery is gone and Mack can rejoin the fold, maybe even trust Coulson a little bit more. He’s been bumped up to a series regular, which means there will be hijinks. As the head of alien things, he’s going to have his hands full. He’s going to want retribution on that Kree weapon, whenever they realize that’s where Simmons went.

All I know is he’s still not going to like alien things.

Where He Started: C
Where He Ended: B
Overall Grade: C+/B-. With not much of a background road map for his character, Mack struggled for most of the season, but shows much potential for Season 3.

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